- Author: Gregory Ira
Over 3,000 Corpsmembers graduate from the California Conservation Corps (CCC) every year. Some jump right into the workforce, but many enroll in college courses or seek additional training and professional development.
The California Naturalist course is a perfect opportunity for Corpsmembers to continue their learning. Like the CCC, the California Naturalist program emphasizes experiential learning with lots of hands-on and field based activities. The California Naturalist Certification is increasingly recognized as an asset for job-seekers in environmental education and natural resource management fields. In addition, Corpsmembers can access four general education credits from UC-Davis Extension (now Continuing and Professional Education) if they are interested in furthering their studies.
The California Naturalist program was recently awarded a UC ANR Renewable Resources Extension Act (RREA) grant that will help us tailor certain aspects of the California Naturalist course to the needs of Corpsmembers. A pilot course hosted by UC ANR's Hopland Research and Extension Center will serve Corpsmembers based at the CCC residential camp in Ukiah. Three other residential camp representatives will also participate with the expectation of replicating the course in other regions of the state in subsequent years.
With over 45 California Naturalist partners around the state, and new partners joining every year, Corpsmembers will likely find a course within an hour of their current residence. We hope all our California Naturalist partners will unlock this new opportunity for young Corpsmembers. We think it is a perfect match that bodes well for the future stewardship of California's natural resources.
Collective impact isn't new, but the concept of collaboration by organizations from different sectors around with a common goal to solve or address a complex social or environmental problem has gained traction since it was articulated in 2011 by a team at the Stanford Social Innovation Review. The UC California Naturalist program network is an example of a collective impact. Since its inception, it has multiplied the effort of Brenda Kyle and others like her. To date, 56 different organizations from around the state have engaged over 80 instructors, who have trained 3,720 participants just like Brenda. Certified naturalists have gone on to make over 73,000 educational contacts and provide over 168,000 hours of volunteer service worth an estimated $4.3 Million to the state of California. These are the outputs of a diverse array of individuals from across the state whose one commonality is a pin and certificate that says, California Naturalist.
While the California Naturalist network addresses the five conditions originally outlined for collective impact (i.e., a common agenda, shared measurement, reinforcing activities, continuous communication and backbone support), a new opportunity has emerged that will further strengthen our work. Our new Climate Stewards course is helping us more systematically and intentionally adapt to new priorities, better connect to those with lived experiences, and strengthen the engagement of our partners. The course itself is a reflection of the growing demand for the same research-based approaches to education and service that characterizes the original California Naturalist course. Our recent Climate Stewards Initiative needs assessment reached over 500 individuals helping us better address the needs of those individuals in communities across the state who will participate in the course. Finally, modifications to our Program Advisory Committee have increased the voice and engagement of our external partners and reaffirmed our role as a backbone organization for the network. In short, the momentum behind the new Climate Stewards course is helping to elevate and catalyze the larger California Naturalist collective impact network of which it is a part.
Collective impact is both a process and a result. The collaborative structures create a framework for coordination, and the aggregated numbers help describe the scale of our impact. But the rich colors, shapes, and details of collective impact come from the stories of naturalists like Brenda Kyle. These stories are now being captured and shared in an online Story Map that highlights the impact of California Naturalists from around the state. We hope you'll also want to share your story and help us complete the mosaic of environmental stewardship that is growing around the state and essential to maintaining a thriving, sustainable, and resilient place that many of us call home.
- Author: Eliot Freutel
Our day started brisk and damp as the sun rolled out behind a curtain of central coast fog. We gathered in the grey light with our morning tea, dressed in warm clothes as the steam from our breath billowed out in front of laughter and conversation on the subject of tide pool safety and ecology.
What followed was a deep dive (pun intended) into the intertidal zone of our California coast.
Most of these organisms move very slow, if at all. To observe them you need a lot of patience, a keen eye and steady footing. Perfectly adapted to this dynamic environment, these organisms often mimic their surroundings. By asking yourself “how does this animal move, eat, and avoid predation?” their biology starts to demystify, and their secrets are revealed.
More than 30 observing naturalists helped to spot, I.D. and record the location of over 40 tide pool species to iNaturalist. Monitoring our tide pool diversity is crucial to its long-term preservation: In 2013, Sea Star wasting disease hit hard along our coast and decimated populations from Vancouver, B.C. down to Baja California. This weekend's mini BioBlitz saw healthy specimens in relatively healthy numbers and cataloged the recovery of at least 3 species of sea star.
The California Naturalist 2019 Regional Rendezvous was a meeting of over 80 naturalists, state-wide staff, and program partners. These passionate observers from across the state visited Camp Ocean Pines (a CalNat course partner) in Cambria for a 3-day immersive and educational experience, complete with field trips, workshops, guest speakers and more. 44 observers made 289 observations of 112 species on iNaturalist.
- Author: Gregory Ira
Just in time for the 2019 California Naturalist Regional Rendezvous, naturalists can re-discover California's Central Coast through a new UC ANR publication: Natural History of the Central Coast Bioregion. The publication and the Rendezvous event―both outgrowths of the University of California's California Naturalist Program―provide two new opportunities to study, explore, and conserve the natural resources of this unique bioregion.
Participants enrolled in one of four California Naturalist courses offered in the Central Coast Bioregion will find that Natural History of the Central Coast Bioregion follows the intent of the California Naturalist Bioregions Series, namely, deep dives into the state's ten bioregions. It is the second publication in the series and follows the Natural History of the Sierra Nevada Bioregion by Kim Ingram (University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources) and Susie Kocher (University of California Cooperative Extension Forestry and Natural Resources Advisor). Both publications complement The California Naturalist Handbook (De Nevers, Greg, Deborah Stanger Edelman, and Adina M. Merenlender. University of California Press, 2013) which serves as the primary text for every UC California Naturalist Course.
This year's Regional Rendezvous (August 16-18) will host an abundance of learning opportunities for our CalNat participants. Aside from the amazing activities and adventures (such as kayaking, birding, historic building and nature preserve visits, traditional tool use workshop, etc.), Rendezvous participants will learn from our lightning talks, welcome speakers, a professional natural resources panel, and our plenary speaker.
Lightning Talks: For us to maintain a cohesive community across the entire state, it is important to know what other Naturalists have been up to in their areas. Lightning Talks are a great way to get an update on research or ongoing restoration projects, to present a particularly engaging Capstone Project, or to highlight the work being done by various organizations and programs. Our Naturalists are encouraged to contribute by submitting their work for a Lightning Talk. Each presentation will be about five minutes long with time allotted at the end for a few questions.
Don Pierce, Jr., Salinian Tribe elder, will welcome us to his ancestral lands. Born and raised in the mountains above Morro Bay he comes from a long line of ancestors traditionally located north of the Chumash. He grew up in the modern world, but learned native ways from his parents and extended family. Among many positions he holds, Mr. Pierce is presently the Salinan Chairman, Public Relations lead, Education lead, MBMM Board of trustee's, Native American liason for the Maritime museum and Navigators circle.
Dr. Katherine Soule, University of California Cooperative Extension Director and Youth, Families, & Communities Advisor of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties will welcome us to the county. Dr. Soule leads an award-winning multicultural, bilingual team who truly understand the culture, needs, and strengths of the people in the communities where they work. Her programs integrate health education with community engagement, improving equity for marginalized populations.
Natural Resource Expert Speaker Panel:
We have four guest speakers at this year's Regional Rendezvous whose amazing work embodies and often supports our collective environmental missions.
Heather Holm is the Interpretive Planning and Program Section Manager for California State Parks Interpretation and Education Division coordinating statewide interpretive projects and programming. One of her active projects is PORTS – Parks On-line Resources for Teachers and Students (a distance learning program covering subjects from kelp forests to California's Missions). Her work has brought high quality virtual field trips highlighting California's unique ecology and deep history to students across the world. Heather has 19 years of experience in interpretation, having worked in various positions in California State Parks and other non-profit museums and archives.
Rocio Lozano-Knowlton is the Director of MERITO (Multicultural Education for Resource Issues Threatening Oceans) Foundation. A Latin American oceanographer and an environmental/science educator, her impressive and eclectic experience focuses on ocean research and sustainable tourism and has reached and supported millions of teachers, students, and community members as she advocates for global environmental justice, and racial equality in the environmental field in USA.
Organization's Mission: To enhance ocean and climate science literacy among multicultural communities while supporting marine research and conservation in order to promote healthy ocean ecosystems and inspire the next generation of ocean professionals.
Scot Pipkin is the Director of Education for the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Dating back to the mid 1920's, this site highlights California native plants and offers educational courses and community events year-round. Scot has spent the better part of two decades as an outdoor/environmental educator in California, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. He has worked with populations ranging from preschool to retirement, always with the objective of having participants make their own discoveries about the natural wonders that surround them.
Organization's Mission: To conserve California native plants and habitats for the health and well-being of people and the planet.
Organization's Mission: Through voluntary and collaborative measures, The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County works to permanently protect and enhance lands having important scenic, agricultural, habitat and cultural values for the benefit of people and wildlife.
Our wonderful panel moderators are Chris Cameron: former Director of and lead California Naturalist instructor for Camp Ocean Pines and Michelle Roest: Interpretive Planner and lead California Naturalist instructor for the Cuesta College CalNat course.
We are so excited to share and learn from these amazing speakers. Register soon! Space is limited!
See you at the Rendezvous!